PORTLAND—Falmouth’s field hockey team heard the buzz, or noticed the lack thereof, back in the preseason and after feeling slighted, decided to go out and make sure that everyone knows just how good they are.

The Navigators continued their solid play Monday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Stadium, when they dominated host Portland/Deering from start to finish.

After junior Charlize Kelly opened the scoring in the game’s sixth minute, senior captain Chloe Bush took over, setting up sophomore Macy Bush and junior Anna Turgeon for a 3-0 advantage after one quarter, then scoring goals of her own in the second and third periods to help propel Falmouth to a 5-0 win.

The Navigators are now 7-3 on the year and in the process, dropped Portland/Deering to 1-9.

“We’ve surprised a lot of people,’ said longtime Falmouth coach Robin Haley, who now has 233 victories with the program. “We weren’t on anyone’s radar in the preseason, but we’re excited with what we’ve done so far.”

Surprise, not a surprise

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Falmouth has traditionally been a top contender, but coming into the 2021 season, the Navigators were overlooked.

At least it felt that way to them.

After falling, 2-0, at Scarborough in the opener, Falmouth downed visiting Windham (4-1), edged visiting Windham (3-2), eked out a 2-1 overtime victory at Thornton Academy, then blanked visiting Noble (4-0) and host Westbrook (5-0). After falling at Gorham (3-0) and Massabesic (3-2), the Navigators handled visiting Marshwood, 6-1, Thursday.

“It’s been really fun this season,” said Chloe Bush. “We came into the season as a dark-horse. We’re trying to stay on the down-low.”

“I knew we had some of the pieces, but the concern was that we were inexperienced at the varsity level,” said Haley. “Knowing how competitive the league is was a worry, but the girls have jelled really well.”

Portland/Deering, which entered the season seeking its first victory as a co-op program (which dates to 2019), was blanked by host Sanford in the opener (3-0), then fell at home to Scarborough (8-0), at Bonny Eagle (4-0), at home to Kennebunk (10-1), at Westbrook (2-0), at home to Windham (6-1), at Thornton Academy (7-1) and at home to Noble (3-0), but last Tuesday, the squad finally got in the win column, blanking visiting South Portland, 2-0, the first victory for Deering’s players since late in the 2018 season and the first win for Portland since Sept. 13, 2016, ending a 65-game winless skid.

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Last year, Falmouth won at Portland/Deering, 4-1.

Monday, under threatening but dry 57-degree skies, the Navigators controlled the game from the start.

Falmouth set up in the Portland/Deering end and was initially stymied by Portland/Deering senior goalie Ella Burdin, who turned aside a shot from Chloe Bush, while Chloe Bush and Macy Bush missed just wide.

Then, with 8:45 left in the opening stanza, the ball came loose in front and Kelly whacked it home to put the Navigators on top to stay.

With 5:25 to go in the first, Chloe Bush had a shot saved by Burdin, but Macy Bush got to the rebound and doubled the lead.

Then, with 50.2 seconds showing, Chloe Bush sent a long pass ahead to Turgeon, who finished to make it 3-0.

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Falmouth added a fourth goal with 11:57 remaining in the half, as Chloe Bush back-handed a shot into the cage.

Later in the second quarter, Burdin saved shots from Chloe Bush and freshman Allison Sweetser.

Burdin made 15 first half saves total to keep Portland/Deering within hailing distance.

Falmouth junior Brooke Saulter tries to knock the ball away from Portland/Deering senior Taysia Blazejewski during the Navigators’ 5-0 win Monday. Hoffer photo.

Just 63 seconds into the second half, Chloe Bush scored for the second time, on a rebound, to finish the scoring.

“Chloe brings us a sense of confidence and quiet leadership,” said Haley. “She sets the tone leading by example. Her teammates support her and she supports them. The girls see what hard work in the offseason really does. She’s very humble and talented.”

Bush almost got a hat trick goal three minutes later, but Burdin made her finest save, kicking the ball away at the last moment.

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In the fourth quarter, Portland/Deering managed to earn a couple penalty corners, but couldn’t put a shot on goal and Falmouth closed out its 5-0 victory.

“Our main goal was to score early and we scored early and kept going with it,” Chloe Bush said. “I think we passed the ball really well today. We’ve worked on give-and-goes in practice and I think that definitely helps.”

“This was great because traditionally, we haven’t been super-strong in Monday games,” Haley said. “This team is really close. They know each other so well and the passing works really well and that was key for our goals today. We can move people around because they have an understanding of different positions.”

Portland/Deering got 22 saves from Burdin.

“We could have played better than we did,” said Portland/Deering coach Beth Romano-Arsenault. ‘We’re a little rusty since we hadn’t played since last week. Falmouth was quick and beat us to the ball and got us back on our heels. I feel like we were a little intimidated. I’m pretty happy with the fact we had a very ugly first quarter, then we held them to two goals the final three (quarters). The girls are seeing the hard work pay off. They know we’re building and learning and we’ve gotten a little better each year, but it’s still hard to compete with the veteran groups. We try to take whatever lessons we can from games like this.”

Finishing up

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Portland/Deering has two road games upcoming, at Marshwood Wednesday and a makeup game at Gorham Friday. After hosting Cheverus in its first home game Monday, the squad closes at Massabesic Oct. 16.

With an open tournament this year, Portland/Deering can also look forward to its first postseason action in seven years.

“We have this really great group of seniors who I just love,” said Romano-Arsenault. “They’ve helped keep the sport alive in the city. They’re phenomenal leaders. They’re so well-respected by the underclassmen. Then, we have a group of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, who have had a disjointed experience with COVID. We want to keep building and learning. When this season ends, the underclassmen will have a taste of it. This younger group has a head start.

“We look forward to a playoff game. It gives us an extra week playing together. Field hockey’s a funny sport. You have a hot goalie and you never know.”

Falmouth has a big test at Biddeford Friday, then closes with home games versus Bonny Eagle, Sanford and South Portland.

The Navigators then hope to steal some headlines in the playoffs and confirm once and for all that they’re a top team.

“We’re super-close and the scoreboard shows it,” said Chloe Bush. “We have to keep up the communication and keep working on our passing. We have a lot of goal-scorers, which is good for us because the teams we play don’t really know what to expect.”

“Hopefully, as we finish up, we can show up with our ‘A game’ every day,” Haley said. “We hope to make some noise in the playoffs.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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